Last Updated: Friday, 08 December 2017, 11:58 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Netherlands

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 February 2016
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Netherlands, 24 February 2016, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Kingdom of the Netherlands
Head of state: King Willem-Alexander
Head of government: Mark Rutte

Solitary confinement continued to be used in immigration centres. The government failed to introduce measures to prevent ethnic profiling by the police.


Immigration detention

Solitary confinement continued to be used in immigration detention centres, both as a means of control and as a punitive measure.[1] In March, body scan equipment was introduced in detention centres, making strip searches of detained migrants largely unnecessary.

In September the government tabled a draft law regulating immigration detention. The law mentions the need to consider alternatives to detention. However, it includes provisions that would, in practice, likely lead to harsher conditions for detained irregular migrants and asylum-seekers.[2] The law also fails to establish an effective mechanism to prevent the detention of vulnerable groups, and the authorities' power to use solitary confinement remain unchanged.

Economic, social and cultural rights

The government failed to implement the recommendation by the European Committee of Social Rights that all people, including irregular migrants, should unconditionally have access to shelter and basic necessities. In April, the government put forward a proposal to establish shelters in a limited number of municipalities, but make accommodation there dependent on the willingness of the irregular migrant to co-operate in their deportation.


The government continued its attempts to deport rejected asylum-seekers to southern and central Somalia, including – under certain circumstances – to al-Shabaab-controlled areas, against guidelines issued by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. In August, the government decided to temporarily halt forced returns of Uighurs to China, in anticipation of a new guidance report.

In May, Mathieu Ngudjolo, a former Congolese militia leader, was returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo despite alleged fears for his safety, after the Council of State rejected his request for asylum. Mathieu Ngudjolo was acquitted by the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a decision confirmed on appeal on 27 February.


In response to concerns about ethnic profiling by the police, the government committed to undertaking measures focused on awareness raising and training of police officers.

However, it still did not introduce clear guidelines to limit widespread stop-and-search powers that increase the risk of ethnic profiling, or institute systematic monitoring of stop-and-search operations.


In July the government published proposals to amend the powers of the intelligence and security services, including provisions which in effect would legalize indiscriminate bulk collection of telecoms data. The proposals also failed to include necessary safeguards, such as prior judicial approval of decisions to intercept personal communication or hack electronic devices.


The government refused to take steps to evaluate or amend the current operation of the Dutch National Prevention Mechanism, established under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, despite ongoing criticism of its independence and efficacy.

[1] Netherlands: Isolation in detention (Press release, 3 March)

[2] Netherlands: Submission to the UN Committee against Torture (EUR 35/2104/2015)

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